Here's our look at the Trump administration and the rest of Washington:
- Trump to give green light to Keystone pipeline project
- House GOP leaders postponed a vote on their health plan until Friday
- White House acknowledges it doesn't yet have the votes to pass healthcare bill
- Claims of surveillance of Trump transition team raises far-reaching questions
- Senate Democrats plan filibuster to try to block Gorsuch nomination to the Supreme Court
- Obama defends Affordable Care Act as Republicans try to repeal it
- The Trump transition team's communications were swept up in U.S. spying, lawmaker says
After failing to land a deal on the healthcare bill, President Trump on Friday blamed Democrats, even though the GOP controls Congress and the White House, and made few overtures across the aisle when pushing the bill.
"When you get no votes from the other side -- meaning Democrats -- it is really a difficult situation," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office after a revolt by Republican lawmakers forced House leaders to stop a vote in their bid to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.
Trump insisted that the current healthcare law, commonly known as Obamacare, will collapse under its own weight, and then Democrats will want to make a deal with the White House.
"I truly believe the Democrats will come to us," Trump said.
In the meantime, Trump is moving his attention to pushing through a tax reform bill, he said.
"We will probably be going really hard for the big tax cuts and tax reform -- that's next," he said.
Trump, who has spent decades negotiating real estate deals and seeing many of them fall through, seemed sanguine discussing the effort he put into getting a healthcare reform bill passed.
"This was an interesting period of time," Trump said. "We learned a lot about loyalty and we learned a lot about the vote-getting process."
Trump stopped short of blaming House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and avoided singling out the group of conservative Republican lawmakers, who dug in their heels in opposition.
Lawmakers in the House Freedom Caucus that largely stood against the bill are "very good people" and "friends of mind," he said.
"I was disappointed because we could have had it," he said. "I'm a little surprised," he said.
When asked by a reporter if he would reach out now to Democrats for ideas on how to get a deal, Trump said, "No, I think we need to let Obamacare go its way for a little while. Then we'll see how things go."
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet with NATO allies next week in Brussels, a move that could quell controversy over his earlier decision to skip a long-planned summit of the transatlantic alliance.
The State Department said Friday that Tillerson added a stop at NATO headquarters in Brussels to a previously scheduled trip to the Turkish capital of Ankara.
Tillerson will be in Ankara on Thursday to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other senior Turkish officials to discuss the fight against Islamic State militants in Syria and to "reaffirm Turkey’s important role in ensuring regional stability," the State Department said.
The next day, he will go to NATO, the State Department said. NATO officials were attempting to put together a session with the other 27 allied nations.
Earlier this week, news that Tillerson would miss the NATO ministerial meeting set for April 5-6, roiled the alliance. Administration officials said Tillerson would have to be in Washington to attend President Trump's first face-to-face meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 6-7.
At the same time, Tillerson's aides announced he would be traveling to Moscow the following week.
Criticism was swift from European allies but also from several former American diplomats and key U.S. lawmakers, who said the decision raised questions about the Trump administration's commitment to NATO.
During his campaign, Trump called the alliance "obsolete," although more recently he has voiced support for it while also demanding members spend more money on defense.
In response, Tillerson's aides said they were exchanging possible alternative dates with NATO to attempt to arrange a meeting in which all parties could participate. It was not yet clear if next Friday's meeting will take the place of the April 5-6 session, which as of late Friday remained on NATO's formal calendar.
Diplomats considered the ministerial meeting as especially important because it will lay the groundwork for a May 25 NATO summit of heads of state and government, which Trump has said he will attend.
Unable to muster enough support from his own party, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan again postponed a vote Friday on the GOP's plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.
The move came at the request of President Trump, who just Thursday night issued an ultimatum that lawmakers should hold the vote regardless of the outcome.
It was the second time House GOP leaders had to delay a final reckoning on the measure to avoid an embarrassing defeat.
Republicans could afford to lose no more than21 or 22 votes from their own members, but defections appeared at times to exceed 30.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus wanted Trump and Ryan to go further and faster in unwinding Obamacare rules and taxes. Centrist Republicans were worried the GOP plan would leave too many Americans without health insurance.
The Hawaii federal judge who brought President Trump's revised travel ban to a national halt last week has become the target of threats.
U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson has received the threats since his March 15 ruling, according to FBI spokeswoman Michele Ernst.
Ernst said the FBI is ready to assist but declined to provide more information.
The U.S. Marshals Service also said it would not give details.
"The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for the protection of federal judicial officials, including judges and prosecutors, and we take that responsibility very seriously," the agency said in a statement.
"While we do not discuss our specific security measures, we continuously review the security measures in place for all federal judges and take appropriate steps to provide additional protection when it is warranted."
Watson, a judge in the U.S. District Court of Hawaii in Honolulu, issued a scathing 43-page opinion against the travel ban the day before it was to go into effect.
He wrote that, despite the ban's “stated secular purpose,” Trump’s own words marked the executive order as a fulfillment of the president's campaign promise to temporarily bar Muslims from coming to the U.S. “The illogic of the government’s contention is palpable,” Watson said.
In response, Trump said Watson's ruling was "terrible" and “makes us look weak."
Trump has vowed to take the travel ban case to the U.S. Supreme Court. An appeal of a separate Maryland federal judge's ruling against the travel ban is currently pending in the U.S. 4th District Court of Appeals.
Hours before President Trump faced his first big legislative test, the White House sounded resigned to the possibility that a GOP plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act could be defeated.
"At the end of the day, this isn't a dictatorship and we've got to expect members to vote the way they will vote," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.
"There is no question that the president and his team have left everything on the field," Spicer told reporters in the West Wing. "At some point you can only do so much."
The president asked House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to meet him at the White House and the two discussed where the vote count stands.
"We've seen the whip count. We know where the vote count stands. We don't need a live vote to tell us where the votes are," Spicer said.
While the White House was not giving up hope that the bill could pass, Spicer's comments hinted that it didn't look good.
He said the president doesn't want to drag out discussions on the healthcare bill because he wants to move on to other issues such as tax reform, immigration and funding the border wall.
Several high-profile Republicans, including House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, signaled they would vote against the measure, fueling growing doubts about whether it will win enough votes to pass.
Trump surrogate Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) said he "can't guarantee" the GOP bill has the votes. He said he was "very disappointed" in party members who were not on board.
The chief executive of Charter Communications committed in a meeting with President Trump on Friday to invest $25 billion on broadband infrastructure while joining a trend of business leaders touting previously announced job creation at the White House.
In the case of Charter — Southern California’s dominant cable-TV and Internet service provider — Chief Executive Thomas Rutledge said he expected to hire 20,000 new U.S. employees over the next four years.
Charter had made the hiring promise in 2015 when it was purchasing Time Warner Cable. The new development was the time period in which it will occur.
Nevertheless, Trump indicated the job creation was triggered by his election.
Unike federal judges before him, a judge in Virginia on Friday ruled in favor of President Trump's revised travel ban in a case brought by Muslims who said the president’s executive order illegally discriminated against their religion by restricting travel from six majority-Muslim countries.
U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga of the Eastern District Court of Virginia in Alexandria wrote that the plaintiffs, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Muslim community leaders from across the country, probably would not prevail in their suit.
Trenga said the travel ban likely “falls within the bounds” of Trump’s authority as president, and he rejected a request to halt the order.
Trenga’s ruling doesn’t have an immediate effect on the ban, which was put on hold by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland last week. But it gives ammunition to government lawyers arguing for the ban across several U.S. courts where cases against it are pending.
Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees act out a peculiar Washington ritual in which inquisitive senators gather before TV cameras to hear an aspiring justice politely refuse to answer their questions on all the pressing legal issues of the day.
To no one’s surprise, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee, portrayed himself as an earnest, idealistic jurist who did not want to “tip his hand” by voicing his views. Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. followed the same script on their way to confirmation, as does virtually every nominee.
But three days of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee revealed some of Gorsuch’s thinking and gave hints as to what kind of justice he could be.
Gorsuch, 49, appears to be a strict “textualist” who believes in following the exact words of a law, even if doing so leads to a seemingly unfair or undesired result.
But he may not be as much of a true “originalist” as the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who advocated following the meaning of the Constitution as it was understood at the time it was written.
Hours away from a crucial healthcare vote, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) rushed Friday to the White House for a meeting with President Trump.
As Ryan met the president in the West Wing, the GOP effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act was in jeopardy. A number of key House Republicans said during the day they would vote "no" on the final passage of the bill. Ryan's visit to the White House lasted about an hour.
Ryan has struggled to keep his coalition of fiscal hawks and more centrist conservatives together to repeal and replace Obamacare, as the current law is called.
As support for the bill seemed to waver Thursday, Trump issued an ultimatum that lawmakers must pass the bill or he would move on to other issues, such as tax reform.
Trump "left everything on the field" in the effort to pass the bill, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in his daily press briefing. "We've done everything," he said.
Spicer insisted that White House officials continued to believe that the bill might pass. The vote is currently scheduled for roughly 3:30 p.m. EDT.
This post was updated with Sean Spicer's comments and corrected the length of Ryan's visit to the White House.
Tensions between the two leaders of the House investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia escalated Friday as the committee announced it would soon question President Trump's former campaign chairman.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters at a news conference that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has worked as a lobbyist for a Russian businessman and for a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician, had volunteered to be interviewed by the committee.
He said the panel would consult with Manafort's attorney on whether he would testify in public or private.
But Nunes also announced that the committee was canceling a planned public hearing with former Acting Atty. Gen. Sally Yates and two former Obama administration intelligence officials -- the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, and former CIA Director John Brennan.
The decision to cancel the hearing prompted the panel's top Democrat to accuse Nunes of seeking to avoid further bad publicity for the White House after a tumultuous week.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said in a separate news conference that he “strongly objected” to the cancellation of the hearing, calling it a “dodge” by Nunes to aid the White House.
Nunes apologized to the committee Thursday after abruptly announcing publicly that he had received information that Trump transition officials were inadvertently picked up on surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies and then briefing Trump on the information before sharing it with fellow panel members.
Calling Nunes’ actions a “dead of the night” maneuver, Schiff suggested that the chairman's decisions had been aimed at buttressing Trump’s debunked claim that President Obama had wiretapped him.
“That effort to defend the indefensible has led us down this terrible rabbit hole and threatens the only investigation that is authorized in the House,” Schiff said.
Schiff did not say that Democrats would pull out of the investigation, but said it was for Speaker Paul D. Ryan to decide if Nunes should continue as chairman of the intelligence panel.
In addition to Manafort, two other Trump associates said they were willing to answer questions from the committee.
Carter Page, a Manhattan energy consultant with business ties to Russia who served as a campaign foreign policy adviser to Trump, sent a letter to the committee March 23 volunteering to testify. Page provided The Times a copy of the message.
Page was one of several Trump associates cited by Schiff and other Democrats at the committee’s hearing last Monday. He was also was named in a unverified dossier about Trump ties to Russia compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, that was given to the FBI.
"I would eagerly welcome the chance to speak with the Committee to help finally set the record straight following the false evidence, illegal activities as well as other lies distributed by certain politically-motivated suspects in coordination with the Obama Administration, which defamed me and other Americans,” Page said in his letter.
Separately, Roger Stone, a political consultant who once advised Trump, said he wanted to answer questions. Stone has admitted having contacts last summer with a pro-Russian hacker accused by the FBI of being involved in the cyber attack on the Democratic National Committee.
"I have been anxious to testify for some time," Stone said in an interview. "My name was dragged through the mud in a public session, and I should be permitted to rebut that in a public session. They don't even have to subpoena me. I have volunteered to testify, and I would prefer that testimony to be in public."
12:15 p.m.: This post was updated with statements by Roger Stone and Carter Page.
The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has volunteered to speak with the panel as part of its ongoing investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) told reporters that Manafort's counsel contacted the committee Thursday to offer lawmakers the opportunity to interview him.
Nunes said he does not know whether the interview will take place in a public forum or behind closed doors.
The Associated Press reported this week that Manafort, before signing up with the Trump campaign, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire and wrote a proposal aimed at benefiting the government in Moscow.
The House Intelligence Committee is investigating whether any ties exist between Trump associates and Russia.
The GOP effort to undo the Affordable Care Act crossed a key hurdle when House Republicans approved a procedural step, setting up a final vote expected later Friday.
But the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, as the law is called, is still in serious doubt amid deep Republican dissent.
Late Thursday, President Trump issued lawmakers an ultimatum to either pass the bill or he would move on to other issues. The White House said it was done negotiating with the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which wants a tougher bill, and more centrist and moderate Republicans worried about Americans losing coverage under the GOP plan.
Trump's threat changed the tenor of what had been relatively congenial negotiations. Some lawmakers embraced the moment as their battle cry to act, while others resented the president’s hard-sell language.
On Friday, Trump went a step further, criticizing the caucus publicly for its opposition.
"The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!," the president tweeted.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has struggled to build majority support for passage and Trump's message cut both ways.
Approval of the rules package Friday morning by a 230-194 vote does not ensure final passage later in the day. Six Republicans voted against advancing the bill.
Reviving a big oil project which environmentalists had hoped was dead and buried, the Trump administration plans to announce Friday that it has issued a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
The project, which would ship 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada's tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries, had been rejected by the Obama administration last year, a move heralded by climate activists. The rejection came just before the former president signed an international agreement on global warming in Paris.
But Trump vowed to undo the previous administration’s work on climate change. He announced soon after taking office that he would seek to restart the pipeline project, a clear signal that he would move aggressively to promote oil development.
The pipeline's future, though, remains uncertain. Keystone was conceived at a time of significantly higher oil prices. Its developers had not envisioned prices would drop and remain so low, for so long. Extracting oil from the tar sands is costly, and it remains to be seen if the project will ultimately cost out.
Already, the White House has retreated from a demand that the builders of the pipeline use American steel -- a vow that Trump announced with considerable fanfare. That requirement would have raised the cost of the project substantially.
About half the steel being used to build the pipeline would be imported, much of it from India and some from a Canadian company owned by a wealthy Russian. White House officials said they exempted the project from Trump’s buy-American order because it was already underway at the time the order was signed.
Trump plans to speak about the project this morning, according to a tweet from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
The State Department earlier announced that the pipeline developer, TransCanada, has been given the required permit to construct a line that crosses the U.S. border. The State Department concluded that building Keystone is in the national interest, reversing the view of the Obama administration.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former chief executive of ExxonMobil, had recused himself from the decision-making process. The permit was signed by Tom Shannon, a career diplomat serving as undersecretary of state for political affairs.
A federal appeals court said Thursday that it would hear arguments in early May over the Trump administration's appeal of a lower court's ruling against its travel ban, potentially leaving the ban stalled for several more weeks.
The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals filed notice scheduling oral arguments for May 8 on the Justice Department's appeal. The federal government is asking the court to reverse a ruling by a federal judge in Maryland that called for a national halt to the 90-day ban in President Trump's executive order on travel from six majority-Muslim countries.
The Justice Department said it planned to file a motion in the appeals court on Friday asking for the Maryland decision to be reversed more quickly for national security purposes. According to the court's schedule that was released Thursday, the court would wait until at least April 5 to rule on that request, though the process could take longer.
U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang's decision in the Maryland case against the travel ban came down on March 16, the day the ban was supposed to go into effect. A day earlier, a federal district court in Honolulu also ruled against Trump. The Hawaii ruling blocked enforcement of the ban affecting the six countries, as well as a 120-day pause on refugee resettlement.
The Trump administration has not appealed the Hawaii decision. If it appeals, the case would go to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
The court is the same one where three judges last month unanimously rejected the Trump administration's request to reverse a Seattle federal judge's order halting the first travel ban. A different set of judges would likely hear any new appeal.
Trump has said he wants to take the case over the travel ban -- which was retooled in an attempt to pass court muster -- to the U.S. Supreme Court.
House Republicans' revised plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act would reduce the deficit by half as much as their original plan, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
But the legislation, which GOP leaders are scrambling to advance, would still double the number of Americans without coverage over the next decade, increasing the ranks of the uninsured by 24 million.
The new CBO estimate does not take account of current negotiations among GOP lawmakers about rolling back Obamacare further.
Conservative lawmakers are pushing to scrap requirements in the current law that all health plans cover a basic set of benefits.
Eliminating that requirement could have an impact on how many Americans have coverage.
But if House leaders proceed with their plans to vote Friday on a revised bill, it is unlikely the CBO would have enough time to evaluate the impact before lawmakers vote.
As Republicans scrambled for votes to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, President Trump will likely be making calls "throughout the night" to shore up support, a White House official said Thursday.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he is continuing to make the calls throughout the night," White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah H. Sanders told reporters.
GOP lawmakers decided to postpone the vote on the bill until at least Friday morning when it became clear that there weren't enough "yes" votes to pass it. The decision came only about an hour after White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that there would be no delay, and it appeared to catch the White House by surprise.
Even at this late hour, Sanders said that Trump was still open to hearing from lawmakers on "ways to make the bill better."
House GOP leaders postponed a vote Thursday on legislation to overhaul the Affordable Care Act amid a Republican revolt that raised doubts about the fate of the measure.
Leaders hope to reschedule a vote Friday.
Despite personal appeals from the president and a flurry of last-minute negotiations with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), wary lawmakers remained unconvinced.
Conservatives argued the bill did not go far enough in dismantling the healthcare law known as Obamacare, while moderates feared millions of Americans would be left without health coverage.
Republican leaders hoped to swiftly regroup to amend the bill, the American Health Care Act, but options for generating more support appeared limited because making concessions to one faction risked losing support from another. Efforts were complicated by resistance in the Senate, where Republicans have largely panned the House package as unacceptable.
The decision to cancel the vote leaves in limbo Trump’s bid to quickly scrap his predecessor’s signature healthcare law and deliver on his party’s long-running campaign promise.
Trump, faced with a growing fallout from the FBI investigation into possible collusion between Russia and his presidential campaign, was hoping that a decisive victory in the effort to repeal Obamacare would provide him with much-needed political momentum to propel other ambitious efforts, such as overhauling the nation’s tax code, pursuing new trade deals and dramatically scaling back federal spending.
The president made a hard sell this week, warning Republicans that they risked losing their congressional majority in the next election if they failed to support the bill.
The vote delay also dealt an embarrassing defeat to Ryan. Facing solid opposition from Democrats, the speaker must rely on the GOP majority for passage and can lose no more than about 20 Republicans. Defections at one point this week spilled beyond 30.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus — which had been somewhat overshadowed by Trump’s rise in recent months — led the opposition, reestablishing itself as one of the party’s most formidable power centers. Backed by Senate allies, the caucus at times bypassed Ryan and negotiated directly with the White House.
The arrangement raised familiar questions about who was in control of the GOP. And the failure to reach an agreement tarnished Trump’s image as a dealmaker.
“The president’s doing everything he can to make this happen,” said Rep. James Renacci (R-Ohio).
“Everybody has their own opinion. Everybody has their own thoughts. Everybody wants one little thing in a bill,” he said. “In the end, to get something done, you got to have some compromise.”